tv Titans at the Table Bloomberg August 23, 2014 12:30pm-1:01pm EDT
>> tonight on "titans at the table" we talk football and the big apple. >> there will be a coin toss right here. >> with the man who is bringing it all together. jonathan tisch, co-chairman of the loews corporation and co-owner of the new york giants. he was born and raised in a new york family. in 1959, his family branched out and bought loews theaters. today the loews have billions of dollars in assets that generate 15 billion of dollars in annual revenue with interest from everything in hotels, insurance, oil and gas, to theaters. jonathan tisch runs the company
and is also the chairman of loews hotels. >> he took this area and made it guest friendly. >> he completed a massive luxury renovation of a flagship hotel that is near and dear to his heart. >> i grew up in this hotel. >> but that work has not stopped him from writing books. >> you get about six hours of sleep? >> 5-6 hours of sleep. you will get an e-mail from me at 3:00 in the morning. >> despite a demanding schedule, i caught up with him at his team's home turf -- metlife stadium. ♪ >> it is incredible to be out here. how does it make you feel? >> pretty amazing. i think of my father and what he went through to afford us this opportunity to be partners with the giants. >> in 1991, bob tisch fulfilled
his lifelong dream when he bought a 50% stake for the giants. the team is valued at an estimate of $1.3 billion. it is co-owned by two families. if loews was a football team, what is your position? >> probably the coach. i'm not there day-to-day. very much true in the hotel business. i can sit in my office, but i'm not checking people into the rooms or making the beds. in that regard, i guess i would be the coach. understanding what is in your game plan, the playbook, and then you have to articulate it, and perform it. in the hotel business, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you have to get it right every time. >> i know your family is a big football fan. why do you like it?
>> a play contains the course of a game. you never know what will happen. a pass could be intercepted, a ball could be fumbled. it is exciting. the fans get involved. people are aspirational when it comes to their players. that puts more pressure on us to make sure the product we are putting on at metlife stadium is the best that it can be. with technology today, it is easy to sit in your man cave, woman cave, and watch a game. we want people to come out and experience it live and sit in the stadium. we want them to say was an enjoyable experience, and you sat in traffic and maybe snowflakes fell on your head, but that is part of the experience. >> coming up -- >> some of the best games have been played in severe weather. ♪
>> filling all 82,500 seats at metlife stadium is no easy task. the stadium is in new jersey. it is just across the hudson river from new york. metlife opened its doors four years ago. jonathan tisch was instrumental in getting it built. the stadium holds games for the giants and the jets. it's also the largest in terms of seating capacity. all of those seats came with a hefty price tag. >> this is an amazing building. it cost $1.6 billion to build. people said to us, why is there no roof on it? that would have been another $400 million. that would have been more money here at there is not a dime up public money in this building. it is all privately financed. it was quite a remarkable accomplishment.
>> the stadium will be in the spotlight in early february when the plays host to the most-watched sporting event in the world -- the super bowl. >> super bowl is a great opportunity for this region, for new york and new jersey. this is a super bowl of a lot of firsts. first time it is being hosted by two teams, the first time it is being hosted by two states and one big city. the first time the game is being played in a northern city in a building without a roof. >> it has been a decade-long effort for tisch. it began after 9/11 when he began pitching the idea to nfl and local politicians as a way to jumpstart the stuttering economy. it was not until the metlife stadium was built in 2010 that idea caught on. >> the nfl owners liked to bring the game to some of the newer stadiums -- they wanted the world to see this great facility.
>> many will be watching super bowl xlviii. perhaps no venue is better prepared for an event like this. 20 times a season, metlife undergoes a transformation. a staff of about 20 take two days, they change it from one team to another. from jets green to giants blue, and that includes the removable endzone. the turf from one team is rolled up and under the stands and another team's turf is rolled out. special end zones will be rolled out for the super bowl. that is about all nfl is saying. >> what are some of of the cosmetic changes? >> i know we are standing on the 50 yard line. [laughter] there will be a coin toss right here. >> together with the owner of the jets, tisch is the cochairman of the super bowl
committee. they make sure this stadium he helped build is ready for the big game. >> a lot of responsibility. what keeps you up at night? >> the scale. the sheer number of things that have to get done, the sheer number of issues that we have tried to think of, to plan for. power is the big issue here. a blackout affected the superdome. so much work has gone into ensuring that there will not be a power failure. there are contingency plans. generators on-site. you never say never. you cannot promise 100%. we have done a lot of work. due to the security perimeter that will be built around metlife stadium, we're losing half of our parking space.
we are trying to call this the first public transportation super bowl. we are working closely with the mta, new jersey transportation authority to make sure buses and trains will transfer people to the games. >> i can hear new yorkers. you know them. they will say, what? i'm getting out of the city during super bowl. >> my advice is not to leave town. there'll be a lot of fun and excitement. >> they will talk about the traffic and the hassle. >> they will say that anyway. new yorkers are very generous. they appreciate when something special is taking place. >> another problem -- mother nature. >> there had to be a rule change in terms of us being able to bid on getting the super bowl. it had to be an open exposed stadium. it had to be in a city where the average mean temperature the day of the game is above 50 degrees. that is clearly not the case in february in the new york and new jersey area.
>> they change that rule for this game. >> it went away. >> they use a network of chutes. these clear snow from the stadium. he says they are ready for the snow. >> we have one down here on the field. we have a snowmelter we can use in the parking lot. they have a jet engine inside. the heat that is produced from the jet engines is what melts the snow. >> it is a big operation. >> no matter what the weather, it will be a great game. >> some of the greatest games in the history of the nfl have been played in inclement weather. it may snow, it may rain, but it could also be 45 degrees and gorgeous. super bowl xlviii at metlife stadium will be exciting. we want to make sure that the region knows that the super bowl is in here. >> when we come back, jonathan
>> the regency hotel had been an institution since the day it opened back in 1963. in january, to celebrate the grand reopening, jonathan tisch, chairman of the loews hotel, was on hand to welcome the guests back. they gave a sneak peek of the hotel. workers were buzzing around putting the finishing touches on the lobby. >> the loews regency hotel is our flagship.
50 years ago, my father and uncle opened this hotel. it was an integral part of how they wanted to build hotels which is worked into the loews corporation. the hotel business is at the root of where our family started going back 75 years ago with hotels in new jersey. this hotel has become very important to the image of loews hotel. it has become very important to the bottom line of loews hotels. i grew up in this hotel. since i was 12, i have been walking the corridors and know many of the workers who have been here since the beginning. >> you stayed at this hotel yourself. >> emotionally, there is a connection. physically, there is a connection. financially, there is a connection. >> what was the most difficult part of renovating this hotel? >> the challenge we faced was once we got into that building and went behind a wall, i came to the realization that my
father and uncle did not spend a lot of money when they were building it 50 years ago. we found some conditions that made it challenging to rebuild at the pace that we were hoping to. >> structural issues? >> structural. because of super bowl, we knew that we had an end date we do not want to go beyond. we had to scramble. >> it was the most that has been on any renovation. why so much? >> we felt $100 million was necessary to bring the regency back to a place that fits the neighborhood, but also the vision that we had for this hotel. the $100 million mark not only includes the rooms and the restaurant and the fitness center and the salon and the new lobby, but we replaced every window. the windows were 50 years old. guests will appreciate that. we're looking to raise rates 20-25%. that is not a small amount, but we think the product and service will warrant that.
we took this area and made the area guest friendly. >> the renovation costs make a 100 million dollars. he says it is all part of his plan to boost the image of all 21 of his loews hotels. >> how long before you can make the money back? >> it's hard to look at a real roi in terms of every dollar and every penny, we want to get economic return and what this hotel means to loews hotels from an emotional standpoint. you cannot quantify. we made a commitment that the flagship hotel a block from our office is at a standard that represents the rest of our orientation. we are continuing to grow. in the last 18 months, we bought a few hotels. we bought one in california and
one in washington, d.c. we have two hotels under construction from scratch. one is in chicago. another hotel in orlando. our fouth hotel in orlando on the ground at universal studios. we come back to new york city. it is a focus point of the u.s. travel and tourism industry. >> right. >> we wanted to have a property that we were proud of and make a good return on investment. >> and it depends on visitors to the city. tisch has worked closely with the past mayors to improve new york city's gritty image. he helped kick off the new york times square makeover. so far, his efforts seem to be working. new york had 54 million visitors in 2013. the regency sold out for super bowl weekend about a month before it even opened.
it is not just about keeping hotels full. tisch says tourism is critical for the new york economy. >> it is about the jobs. it is about the ability for visitors to come and spend money so we can hire more new yorkers. if you look in new york, thousands of people are making a living in some aspect of travel and tourism. we are also reaching out to the right visitors. we want to bring in the international travelers. that is extremely important. they stay longer and spend more money here. >> since 1970, the regency has been home to the power breakfasts. business leaders and politicians convene every morning over coffee to get their day started. >> you look at the history of the power breakfast. it was started by my father. >> your father and your uncle. >> right. these were the times new york city were in very dark financial shape. the leaders of the city at the
time came together to talk about how to save new york city. >> and they did it right here? >> everyday they would say, where should we meet? my father said, it is a bit selfish on my part because i only had to take an elevator, but let's meet at the regency. [laughter] and then the term power breakfast started. we will re-establish the regency at the home of the power breakfasts where people want to come see and be seen. >> coming up, what kind of hotel room does $100 million buy? >> the bathrooms are very expensive. ♪
>> all right. newly renovated rooms. you have designed -- you pick out almost everything in this room. >> i can tell you stories behind the carpet, behind the finish on the dresser, behind artwork, behind the pillows. you start with carpet. you have a color idea. there might be a gray scheme. it will be presented as a warm grey scheme and then a cool gray scheme. >> this is what? >> this is a cool gray scheme. >> each room is brand-new with almost all of the design elements selected personally by tisch himself. the most expensive part -- the marble bathrooms. >> the bathroom has become a point of competition. a lot of new hotels have big bathrooms that sparkle. we wanted the bathrooms to -- >> i noticed there was a television.
>> we have televisions in the mirrors. every bathroom has a tv in it. >> one thing i had to ask is do you test the mattresses out? >> i have tested many. my wife and i have stayed in this hotel. it is comfortable. >> do you do this in every one of your hotels? >> we have lots of renovations. we bought a hotel in hollywood, california. we finished up a $30 million renovation. and nashville, tennessee, $12 million on a new lobby and restaurant. we did all of the guest bathrooms. >> what is it like? you walk into a room and say yes, yes, no, no? >> designers will show lots of different fabrics. i will ask to make it greener. can you make this bluer. can this be lighter? darker? we will be in their offices or they will be in our offices throwing around different fabric swatches. >> do you have an idea that this is what the room will look like? >> i did, but it took us a few iterations to get to the point
that we as a company were happy. when people ask me what i would be doing if i wasn't in the hotel business, i admit that i'm a frustrated architect. >> you love this stuff. >> i really do. i get excited about what we can create. >> it is a good thing tisch likes picking out the wallpaper. the lifespan of soft goods in hotels, things like pillows, carpets, chairs, drapes is only about six years. the major renovation like this is a major gamble. he admits it will take some time before he knows that it was worth it. >> you make decisions that you hope are right, you will not know the answer for six months to a year to see how your revenue numbers start to come in. believe me, i'm losing a lot of sleep over it.
my wife asked me, what are you were at about? what happens if no one likes it? >> he might have reason to worry. the industry tends to rise and fall with economy. >> there are so many good operators. lots of companies that are very good at what they do. there are lots of options. if somebody checks out here and they see that they pay a couple of hundred bucks and were not happy, all they had to do is walk out the front door on park avenue and take a right and there are some great hotels. and now with social media, you have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. you have to offer a product and service people can relate to and feel good about using. >> how do you make sure that loews differentiates itself? >> we will have some properties that are much smaller than the
big-name business. we will be competing against a hyatt and the fairmont. we could be competing against the four seasons. why people want to come back here is the service. they say, welcome back. >> it is a welcome for many this year, including nfl fans, new york tourists, and his regency hotel guests. a lot is riding on a simple hope that they enjoy the new hotel as much as he does. >> it is our best shot at it. we spent $100 million to reinvent loews regency hotel. it always comes back to the basic great service, but now in a new box. ♪
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